Washington (5-3) at Colorado (2-6) (ET)
FACTS & STATS: Site: Folsom Field (53,613) -- Boulder, Colorado. Television: Pac-12 Network. Home Record: Washington 3-2, Colorado 1-3. Away Record: Washington 2-1, Colorado 1-2. Neutral Record: Washington 0-0, Colorado 0-1. Conference Record: Washington 1-2, Colorado 0-5. Series Record: Washington leads, 8-5-1.
GAME NOTES: The Colorado Buffaloes take another shot at earning their first Pac-12 Conference win of the season when they host the Washington Huskies this Saturday.
After ripping off four straight wins to start the season, the wheels have fallen off for the Huskies. Washington was topped by Arizona State last weekend, 24-10, marking its third loss in the last four contests. They are now just 5-3 overall, with a 1-2 mark in conference play.
There will be no sympathy coming from the Colorado sideline, as the Buffaloes have had a much tougher time this season with a 2-6 record. Conference play has been the main culprit in creating those woes, with Colorado winless in five chances against league foes.
Washington has won five straight against Colorado, including a 59-7 rout last season. As a result, the Huskies' lead in the all-time series stands at 8-5-1.
Troy Williams made his first career start for the Huskies against Arizona State, standing in for Cyler Miles, who suffered a concussion in the pervious game against Oregon. Williams really struggled, finishing with 139 yards and two interceptions on 18-of-26 passing. He was also sacked five times. With Miles listed as probable for this contest, it is unlikely Williams will be the starter again. Miles may have only 1,043 passing yards, but he has a much better touchdown (10) to interception (one) ratio.
Of course, even with Miles, the Huskies have been very weak on offense. They rank last in the Pac-12 in total offense (355.3 ypg) and 10th in scoring (29.9 ppg).
Leading rusher Lavon Coleman (438 yards, TD) was also absent in the loss to Arizona State. Shaq Thompson, who has been an important contributor on defense, switched sides and led the way on the ground in the setback, finishing with 98 yards on 21 carries. Deontae Cooper tallied 70 yards in support. Both Thompson and Cooper are averaging better than five yards per carry.
Jaydon Mickens may have played last week, but he was locked down by the Sun Devils, finishing with just a single catch. That is not a recipe for success on offense, considering Mickens (37 receptions, 321 yards, two TDs) is the only player on the roster with more than 20 catches. John Ross (17 receptions, 371 yards, four TDs) has shown flashes of big-play ability, but he also had just a single catch against Arizona State.
With so many issues and injuries on offense it may seem impossible for Washington to still be above .500 on the season. Fortunately, the Huskies have been rather impressive on defense. Anchored by Hau'oli Kikaha, who leads the country in tackles for loss (19.5) and sacks (14.5), the Huskies rank behind only Utah nationally in quarterback takedowns (34).
Fortunately for Colorado quarterback Sefo Liufau, he has a strong offensive line. The Buffaloes have given up the fewest sacks in the Pac-12 (12).
Having time to throw has obviously helped Liufau, who still has areas he can clean up going forward. He has completed nearly 65 percent of his pass attempts for 2,276 yards and 23 touchdowns. Plus, he nearly led Colorado to an upset win over UCLA last weekend, before the team fell in overtime. However, he has been guilty of 11 interceptions, including two against the Bruins.
Nate Spruce has also given Lifau's second season under center a boost. Spruce leads the country in receptions (77) and is among the top-10 in receiving yards (864) and touchdown grabs (11). He had a rather mediocre game by his standards against UCLA, finishing with 63 yards on six grabs. Shay Fields (38 receptions, 306 yards, TD), D.D. Goodson (30 receptions, 304 yards, four TDs) and Tyler McCullocj (24 receptions, 300 yards, four TDs) provide alternate targets. Bryce Bobo worked his way into the rotation against UCLA as well, grabbing two touchdown passes.
Michael Adkins II and Tony Jones combined for 175 yards and two scores on the ground against UCLA. Adkins II had a team-high of 107 yards, but is still second on the team with 288 total rushing yards. Jones finished with 68 against UCLA and is the only back on the roster with more than 300 yards.
Injuries have ravaged the Colorado defense, as leading tackler Tedric Thompson (59) is listed as questionable with a leg injury and Addison Gillam (57 tackles) also is questionable with an illness. Losing such important pieces would be detrimental to any squad, especially one ranked near the bottom in the conference in scoring defense (38.8 ppg).
Washington may not be one of the elite programs in the Pac-12 this season, but its ability to maintain pressure on the quarterback has kept the team competitive. Colorado would have had a tough time pulling out a win at full strength, so if Gillam and Thompson are out, expect yet another letdown.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Washington 30, Colorado 24Game Date and Time
Saturday, November 1, 1 p.m. (ET)